Seven teams of Texas college and seminary students fanned out across the Lone Star state this summer to conduct revivals at 50 churches.
Known as Engage Teams and sponsored by the SBTC, they disproved the notion that God no longer uses revivals to advance his kingdom.
The revivals were “successful in helping the churches renew a passion for evangelism and outreach in their communities and for spiritual revival and awakening,” Engage ministry coordinator Garrett Wagoner told the TEXAN. “But they’ve also been successful in the lives of college and seminary students. They understand what revival is—a thing of God.”
Each team included a preacher who doubled as the team leader, a worship leader and one or two youth and children’s workers. Teams traveled the state June 5-July 29, conducting services nightly Sunday through Wednesday at each church. During the days, they held sports camps for children along with various activities for youths and participated in evangelistic visitation. In addition, teams threw evangelistic block parties.
Most Engage Team members attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth or Criswell College in Dallas, though students from other schools were involved too. The 50 churches visited represented a 100 percent increase from last year’s total.
Adam Robinson, a master of divinity student at Southwestern, served as a preacher and team leader and said a highlight of the summer occurred when three members of a family all committed their lives to Christ at Trinity Baptist Church in Vidor.
On Sunday afternoon Robinson led a 24-year-old woman to faith in Jesus during an evangelistic visit. Then on Wednesday morning he led her oldest son to Christ during a sports camp. That afternoon mother and son both expressed a desire to be baptized, and baptism was scheduled for the evening worship service.
Providentially, her boyfriend and three other children attended the service. At the invitation, however, no one responded to Robinson’s call to salvation or a subsequent call issued by the pastor. But when the pastor began talking about the offering and making other announcements, something extraordinary occurred.
The boyfriend “gets up, walks into the middle of the aisle,” said Robinson, who is from Australia. “I see it, so I touch the pastor on the shoulder, I point and every single head looks at this guy as he walks from the very back of the church all the way up to the front and says, ‘I want to be saved.’”
Because the baptistry was still full, he was baptized at the end of the service. Three weeks later, Robinson learned from the pastor that the couple was still attending and planned to marry.
Another summer highlight for Robinson occurred at East Lake Baptist Church in Bullard, when the Engage Team offered to help the congregation’s teenagers witness to their unsaved friends. One friend did not respond to the gospel initially but joined the team as it witnessed to others the following day.
As he heard the gospel time and again, the unsaved teen asked questions and responded positively when another member of the team asked if he wanted to be saved.
“It’s the middle of the day,” Robinson said. “It’s about 3 p.m. It’s 105 degrees outside, so they sat down underneath a tree in a ditch, and this guy, Andrew, repented of his sins.”
Seven others also professed faith in Jesus that week, Robinson said.
Jeff Janca, pastor of First Baptist Church in Brackettville, hosted an Engage Team at his church and said the experience helped energize the congregation.
“They blessed us a lot,” Janca said. “The preaching was just excellent. The worship was really good. The two young men that worked with the children and the youth did a really good job.”
As a result of the week’s activities, people renewed their commitments to Christ, he said, adding that there was warm fellowship between the team and church members.
“There were people coming and praying at the altar and rededicating that way and God ministering to hearts there, and that was really neat to see,” the pastor said.
Janca encouraged other churches to consider inviting an Engage Team next summer.
“Sometimes churches get in a rut, and I think this was something really good for our people to experience and to be blessed by,” he said.
According to Robinson, the blessing extends both to churches and team members.
“When you can go minister with people who will do anything for the Lord, it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s fun and effective,” he said.